Monday, October 31, 2016

TCM Marathon 2016 - Race Recap - Part 2

Continued from TCM Marathon 2016 - Race Recap - Part 1

Race kicked off at 8 am, but it was about 20 minutes till my Corral 3 could actually move out. The crowd was spread out while in downtown and winding down Hennpin Avenue. Then at the construction outside Walker Art, roads got narrower and crowds cozier. It stayed that way for a long time. This stretch was very Minnetonka Half kind of route in Orono. And this is where I met my Run club #LadyCrew Mother-Daughter team. It also meant, I was at faster than my usual pace. In the first half. Not a good sign. So now I lagged behind.

The next 5-6 miles milestone around Lake Calhoun & Harriet went by smoothly.
Next stretch were again narrow roads, lined with houses and crowds enjoying a lawn party and cheering loudly for us. Someone even teased me, "Hey look she is carrying a snack bag" - about my ziplock bag of sport beans & Blok. But the crowds also made me anxious for some reason. I never thought I would feel that way about cheering crowds.

Around Mile 14, after covering Lake Nokomis - I was getting anxious, that I am incredibly slow - though I had huge company around me. I was regretting, that "I signed up such an expensive race and I will loose out on shirt and medal ! Forget about any time PR." I was anticipating humiliation. This was too early in race. There was no indication from the race officials about anything like this. Just the strict official text about course time-limit was hovering in my mind.

At Mile 15 medical-stop, I saw a yellow school bus parked behind tree in a back street. I started running faster again.

This went on for next many minutes and I struggled through the Minnehaha Parkway. I think I was wailing tear-less till Mile 16 at West River Parkway. A nice lady in black runner outfit & pink tutu, even asked if I was alright ? I feel bad about startling anyone, but that was the only way to let out my anxiety. So I quit the wailing.

Around Mile 16.5 on West River Parkway and which is uphill, a black car pulled and a kind lady inside politely said the bus is coming, I could get in or run in the sidewalk, cause they are going to start opening the streets again. I just grunted and moved away from the car, closer to the sidewalk.
Mindbubble- "No way I will get in the bus - this is my last marathon ever. Even if I crawl through it. God don't let me crawl."

Soon the bus made it's way ahead. That sight was enough to crush anything I ever had. Now I gave up running and started walking. Who cares if I run ?

I refused to look at my clock, to check my mile or time. In my mind, I had the illusion, that I will reach the end at 1 pm even at this pace - stupid I know, but I did not want to know the reality, at that point of time. From last year's experience, I knew stopping was not an option. If my watch makes me stop my feet ,even for few minutes, I don't know if I would restart. I just needed to finish, anyhow. I started thinking of my kids and how they find it important that I finish a race. Their thought kept me going.

Around Mile 18, I could hear the loudspeaker at Mile 20, which was on the other side of the river. Step-by-Step - that was my mantra for now.

When I did reach Mail 20, they were deflating the huge  air-balloon "Wall" and dismantling everything. No water here. No water, meant, not wanting GUs or Beans or Blok, coz Gwad I was sick of them by now.

Continued to trudge along and there were few more walkers, refusing to give up. Now there was no way to change my mind - no bus to pick up, no phone to call anyone and too much ego to ask any volunteer for that.

The East River Parkway stretch then seamlessly merged into Summit Avenue. Not really seamlessly on road, but I had zoned off by now. There were 10 others walking with me. Summit Avenue meant 3 more miles to go. Here my despair turned to hope.
"Maybe I can still make it and just slide in, on time to pick up the shirt & medal.
Maybe they would not have opened up John Ireland Blvd and I can still cross the finish line arches.
Maybe I could still enjoy some of the festivities.
At the very least, someone will be kind and give my bag to my family and not just throw it away as abandoned."

My legs though refused to run. They were in the walk motion and refused to pick up even to Jog.
And in this stretch, a lot of other runners were walking back in opposite direction.
"Back. Like 26.2 miles of running was not enough and they were adding 2 more miles to their daily quota."
But more interestingly, they were wearing a neon-green full-sleeve shirt, I had not seen before.
"So THIS is the mystery TCM Race shirt ".
And they had a chunky medal on.
"So yeah, I might still get it if I hurry up again."

And I plodded on ignoring the last of few spectators, still lingering in their yards, enjoying a brunch.
Towards the Flag, which is so close to end, but you cannot see the end as there is a curve. After the curve, there it was - Finish line in all its glory, down the road on John Ireland Ave bridge.

I could see it, but it was still half a mile. I stepped up and barreled down the road, avoiding the returning crowds on sidewalks, to go heroically cross the Finish line. I was totally in a brake-fail mode in those last 100 yards, when a lady stepped in my way to stop me. We collided and her puny self did indeed stop my the giant built in running momentum. It's amazing we did not fall on the road. She gave a yellow slip and said, "Fill the survey to get your shirt & medal" and left me in my daze.

I continued wandering on the sidewalk, towards the tent ,for my bag and it took me a while to figure what happened. They were dismantling the Finish frame and no one was allowed there. Tents were all being emptied.

My legs kept walking even while I was disappointed about not getting my shirt & medal today. I was worried about my bag now. Then I spotted my family wandering in the Lower lawns, looking for me same as I was looking for them. And they had my bag, thank Gwad ! Reunion was full of hugging, wobbling, rushing out all details. They were promptly waiting for me since 1 PM. I had repeated a thousand times, that I will finish by 1:30 PM. That's how (over)confident my estimate about my time was. But I made it by 2:45 PM.

If this post sounds hazy and directionless, then it is true reflection of how I felt during the race. 
This post was in draft for long. I was still drudging up details and trying to figure exactly what went wrong.

Last Thoughts:
  1. So I pretty much survived the last 10 miles without water and I was just fine later.
  2. Carb loading is a sure thing. I did indulge in it and did not tire myself for last 2-3 days.
  3. I did get carried away in my first half and that did not help me mentally later.
Frankly I feel better now. Sequels are never as successful as Beginners luck. Everything I learnt in proper training, improved me in some ways, though also slowed me in other areas. A soft-skill trainer  once told me that is natural, because it means you are aware and thinking of every nuance now. Once I get used to my new knowledge, I will improve again. Part of figuring out the right way to reach the goals I want, will be to continue this journey, this running.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

TCM Marathon 2016 - Race Recap - Part 1

My bucket list Marathon is complete now ! And I have been humbled by it !

I have spectated TCM Marathon for the last 2 years. It's actually all the marketing pitch and social media updates of past TCM that piped my interest in races, which in turn excited Running as a form of sport. I pushed it away as a race I would run, because Fall Marathon would mean training in Summer. Ah a big no, I told myself, because running in summer heat (or anything above 70F) is torture and summer is full of distracting vacations. But peer pressure is a strong thing. The Run club I ran with, convinced me I could do it. Finally after training for 16 weeks, here I was.

Smooth packet pickup on Fri evening at River Center, St Paul, after hassle free parking in Science Museum parking. The expo was filled with many small business stalls. I managed to buy the sport beans & Clif Block I had forgotten to buy (in-spite of so much advance notice).

The sky-walk between the parking ramp and River Center, gives a great view of St Paul.

Pre-race days invovled a guessing game on what the temps are going to be and what is the right outfit ? With 38F predicted, I was wondering if I need gloves, which is pretty drastic. But every online advice was to dress in warm throwaways, because it will warm up after the start time and definitely be hot in a few hours. As usual I over-dressed for the race. I thought it was manageable, because I ran the WRTC 10 miler in a rain jacket without getting warm.

And finally on the race morning, Hubby dropped me at Minneapolis downtown, outside the brand new US Bank Stadium. Stadium photo is from Facebook, because I did not carry my phone with me.

I found my way to Corral 3 and checked-in my packet in my corresponding truck, along with the warm sweater I had. I did not carry my phone, so I don't have any photos till the very end. The Start line was out of stadium - this being the day of Football match too, in the stadium. Port-potties were many and spread out. I managed to use it twice without a long wait. And patiently wait for 8 AM for the race to start. It was pretty packed in Corral 3 and I did not meet any of my training group friends. Absolute electric atmosphere everywhere and jazzy music at the start line. The wait seemed never ending.

Continued in TCM Marathon 2016 - Race Recap - Part 2.